Black Opal Stakes Winner Epaulette a 2012 Golden Slipper Chance

After preparing the second and third placegetters in the Canberra Guineas ace Sydney trainer Peter Snowden won the very next race on Canberra’s Thoroughbred Park card on Sunday with Epaulette taking out the Black Opal Stakes 2012, earning the two-year-old a possible start in the coveted 2012 Golden Slipper in Sydney.

Peter Snowden and Kerrin McEvoy

Peter Snowden and Kerrin McEvoy will vie for a second straight Golden Slipper win with Epaulette

Snowden’s Canberra Guineas favourite Detours went down three-quarters of a length to fellow Sydney raider, Anthony Cummings’ Australian Oaks-bound She Goes To Rio, however their stablemate Epaulette atoned in the next winning the $250,000 Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m).

Going out as the $3 favourite the classy Commands clot was racing for the first time since winning the Australian Turf Club Handicap at Rosehill on debut back on Boxing Day.

On Sunday Epaulette, a three-quarter-brother to Snowden’s triple Group 1 hero Helmet, maintained their unbeaten record as they held on to defeat the John O’Shea-trained Faustus ($6) by a long neck.

“It was good to see him do what he did,” Snowden said on Sunday.

“We probably rode him a bit upside down. It was important that he won today.

“He is a talented horse and ridden out of his comfort zone he was still able to win.

“It is a long way to go to get to Helmet’s standard but he has taken the first step today.”

In an all Sydney Black Opal Stakes trifecta, Gai Waterhouse’s promising Later Gator ($4.60) crossed a length off the winner in third.

In fact Sydney raiders filled the first six placings in the 2012 Black Opal Stakes result with the Gerald Ryan-trained Cavalry Rose (4th), Anthony Cummings’ Diamond Player (5th) and Ryan’s other runner My Shabella (6th).

The Black Opal victory could have earned Epaulette a shot at the world’s richest race for two-year-olds with the $3.5 million Group 1 AAMI Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 7 on the agenda.

“We got the money behind him now and I think he is a Slipper horse,” Snowden said.

“He is sharp enough, he has good gate speed.

“He relaxed pretty well and I know there is a lot more improvement left in the horse.

“He is definitely our best two-year-old going into it.”

While Snowden and jockey Kerrin McEvoy, aboard Epaulette for their Black Opal win, took out the Golden Slipper last year with champion colt Sepoy, history is against Epaulette doing the same for them this autumn.

Since the Black Opal Stakes was first run in 1973, the only horse to win it and then go on to salute in the coveted Golden Slipper was Catbird in 1999.

After their Sunday success Epaulette shot up the Golden Slipper 2012 odds at our preferred online bookie

They now pay $17, as does Black Opal runner-up Faustus, in the Golden Slipper betting markets that are led by Blue Diamond Stakes winner Samaready ($4.80 and Saturday’s VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes winner in Melbourne All Too Hard ($6.50

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2012 Black Opal Stakes Results & Finishing Order

Canberra Race 6 – 11/03/2012

Place # Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Br. Wgt. SP
1 2 EPAULETTE Peter Snowden Kerrin McEvoy 7 56kg $3F
2 1 FAUSTUS John O’Shea Jim Cassidy 0.2L 3 56kg $6
3 10 LATER GATOR (NZ) Gai Waterhouse Tommy Berry 1L 2 54kg $4.60
4 9 CAVALRY ROSE Gerald Ryan Corey Brown 1.6L 9 55.5kg $3.80
5 11 DIAMOND PLAYER Anthony Cummings Blake Shinn 2L 14 54kg $31
6 15 MY SHABELLA Gerald Ryan Josh Adams (a) 3.6L 12 54kg $13
7 16 TROPHIES John P Thompson Brenton Avdulla 3.9L 10 56kg $31
8 4 RED EXCITEMENT Neville Layt Kevin Sweeney 5L 8 56kg $21
9 3 RISE TO THE TOP Gary Portelli Peter Robl 6.6L 5 56kg $31
10 5 NO RISQUE Barbara Joseph & Paul Jones Jeff Penza 6.7L 6 56kg $51
11 7 FLAMING STAR Chicka Pearson William Pearson 7.3L 1 56kg $71
12 12 LURA Tony Sergi Michael Travers 8.4L 13 54kg $81
13 8 TONY THE PONY Neil Osborne Mathew Cahill 8.5L 4 56kg $101
14 14 DON’T CROSS MARY Peter Wiggins Jay Ford 12.7L 11 54kg $41
18 CIAO Clarry Conners 0
19 LIGHTNING DREW Tim Martin Jay Ford 0
17 CROWN MOSS Marc Conners 0
6 BRADMAN David Hayes 0
13 BEAUTIFUL DANI Mick Miladinovic Richard Bensley 0